Non-fiction review: I’m From … Earth?

I was interested in reading I’m From … Earth? by Carissa Gobble, since my own children are TCKs. What’s TCK mean? Third culture kids. They don’t feel like they belong in their passport country, and they don’t feel they belong in the second (third, or fourth) country, either. They are “in between,” thus, the title “third culture.”

This book is well written and definitely shines a light on the good and the bad and a little bit about how Ms. Gobble overcame some of her third-culture issues.

I was expecting a book with a strong Christian perspective, which this isn’t, but I’m not sure it’s necessarily a problem. The author references pop music groups, movies, styles, and cultural things like that, but she’s not a groupie, and it doesn’t change her message about TCKs.

The author grew up in several countries in Asia, which have very different cultures from the United States. One of the shocks she mentioned was teens not deferring to older people, especially their grandparents. In Asian society, the elders are looked up to for knowledge and experience—a good thing, in my opinion, and hers.

She says she didn’t get inside jokes, especially those based on movies and music. My children didn’t either.

I would love to know what my own kids think about this book.

Our daughter says that she still once in a while experiences moments of culture shock—after more than fifteen years in the States and married to an American man.

Both of our children experienced one particular year of college that kind of marked the “not-of-this-world” line for them, in different ways. They were surprised. Some things were disappointing. Others were just weird. I think they’ve both settled in fine, even though they had lived in Europe all their lives.

Back to the book: I don’t necessarily think I learned anything brand new from it, but the writing is insightful. I enjoyed reading the results of her surveys.

Let me share a few sentences with you:

  • “If we aren’t careful to seek to understand, we will end up in judgment of something innocent.”
  • “No one knew the United States was a foreign country to me.”
  • “I couldn’t tell you how many jokes and innuendos went straight over my head and I had no idea what the people around me were referring to.”
  • “But, most of all, the biggest selling point in the news world is fear. Fear sells. It is a tried and true marketing tactic, probably the oldest of all time. Fear is the biggest seller of any story.”
  • “We (TCKs) are so used to big, worldwide problems that the smaller ones are hard to start conversations around because they feel so insignificant.”
  • “Because of this, we tend to have a ton of grace for the ‘other side of the story.'”
  • “We know that a lot of times we can’t accept the general narrative as the full picture or story, so we learn to ask questions, seek truth, and understand multiple sides of something before ultimately making our own decision on it.”
  • “It was hugely impactful that I got to be a part of my parents’ work and see how it was changing lives…. I got to see real love in action.”

I’m From … Earth? is definitely a worthwhile read for those in missions, military service, or foreign-based businesses and those who really want to understand third-culture people.